Hanna Hall hasn’t stopped sharing her message of struggle and resilience.
More than a year after the point guard on the University at Buffalo women’s basketball team presented her initial story of how she has dealt with mental health issues, Hall continued to share her share testimonial.
ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” on SportsCenter featured Hall on a segment Wednesday, as part of the show’s series about mental health awareness.
“It took me a long time to realize I needed help and for my family to feel the way they did, and for me to be in such a dangerous place in my life,” Hall said during the 6-minute segment. “With that being said, maybe I wanted to be a voice for athletes to be able to avoid getting that far in their mental health, and to be able to reach out for help, before getting that far and allowing it to be a career-ending thing for them. That was my goal in going public.”
The video coincided with May being National Mental Health Awareness Month. Hall openly discussed with ESPN’s Ryan Smith how she has dealt with anorexia, and how it manifests as a mental health disorder.
"I wanted to...be a voice for athletes...to be able to avoid getting that far in their mental health" @UBwomenshoops star @hannahall10
on why she went public with her battle with anorexia. @OTLonESPN pic.twitter.com/MqsCa2XQpP
— Ryan Smith (@ryansmithtv) May 20, 2020
The "Outside the Lines" series on mental health has also featured Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who discussed going to therapy as an outlet for dealing with mental health issues.
Hall initially shared her fight with mental illness and with anorexia in a video through the NCAA that was posted on UB’s social media accounts. Anorexia, according to the Mayo Clinic, is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, at least 30 million individuals of all ages and genders in the United States are diagnosed with an eating disorder, and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder. About 10% of female college students suffer from a clinical eating disorder.
“It’s not just usually a single eating disorder that you struggle from,” Hall said. “It’s often accompanied by anxiety, depression. A lot of other things come about because of the struggles that come with it. For me, personally, it was through basketball and trying to be the best I could.
“I never really realized I was overworking myself and not feeling my body enough. It eventually turned into something that was not what I was able to face on my own. Those are the struggles that come with an eating disorder, especially for an athlete.”
Hall acknowledged that she has become more receptive to ways she can cope with mental illness, and she has become more aware of some of the warning signs, such as finding herself falling into an unhealthy routine.
“It’s still a struggle, every single day,” Hall said. “But it’s important for me to kind of slow down sometimes and recognize and reflect, and think about the training I’m doing to be more specific and really thing about what I’m doing, instead of just going through the motions.
“Just being able to listen to my body and to know when I’m tired and know that if I don’t get those extra 100 shots up that day, that maybe it could help me, that rest and recover is going to help me rather than tire me.”
A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, conducted in March, found that 45% of adults surveyed believe the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their mental health, with rates that are higher among women, Hispanic adults and black adults.
Hall emphasized to viewers the importance of connecting with others, including teammates and family members, as a healthy way to cope during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s OK for all of us to struggle right now,” Hall said. “It’s not OK to do it alone. Just reach out, use your resources, especially on your team, on your family, whatever you have. This is just a short-term thing, but let’s make sure we’re taking care of ourselves through it.”